On Mastery

This Ted- Ed talk by Sarah Lewis (http://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_lewis_embrace_the_near_win/transcript?language=en) was tweeted out recently. There are some real gems that spoke to me at this point in my teaching career:

– mastery is knowing that it means nothing if you can’t do it again and again. 

– mastery is not a commitment to a goal but to a constant pursuit.

– mastery is about sacrificing for your craft and not for the sake of crafting your career.

– we thrive when we stay at our own leading edge. 

– success motivates us, but a near win can propel us in an ongoing quest. 

I feel acutely right now the need to stay on “my leading edge”. I’ve had a few near wins that are pushing me to seek that which truly hits the mark.  And having had some moments of actual success, I do know what it feels like to stand back from a lesson or experience and say, “Yes!”  But Ms. Lewis is right. That success was for but a moment. To have mastered something would mean I had accomplished more. 

Lately, I have been making some decisions that I hope are propelled by my interest in mastery and not just success.  I say they are. I think they are. But this talk reminded me to be really sure I am making certain moves for the right reasons. Mastery is a lofty and noble goal. It begs the question: to what end do I try and achieve mastery in any aspect of my teaching? It’s certainly not the money or the fame.  I like the approval of my colleagues, but I don’t dance for them.  I believe there is only one good answer: my students. I should strive for mastery because it will benefit my students. Simply because they deserve it. 

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